Sunshine Winn has been teaching for the Juneau School District since 2000. She believes teachers are an amazing part of a child’s life and are part of the community that tends to not seek recognition but still plays an important role in the life of children. Winn has had a passion to teach ever since she attended Floyd Dryden Middle School and is proud to be part of the teaching community.
What grade level and subjects do you teach?
I am the physical education teacher at Mendenhall River Community School. This is my fourth year teaching PE, grades K-5. I also teach small reading groups in the afternoons. Prior to that, I taught fifth grade for four years, and third grade for six years at MRCS. My first year of teaching was at Glacier Valley and Auke Bay elementary schools as the librarian.
Tell us about your family.
I met my husband, Bob, in high school back in 1994. We were married four years later in July of 1998. We have had five children, Kekoa, Levie, James, Leo and Hoku. The oldest is 11 and preparing to enter middle school at Floyd Dryden next year, while our youngest is three and will hopefully be joining preschool next year at MRCS.
What are your hobbies and special interests?
Spending time with my family is my top priority. Besides that, I have an amazing book group that I meet with monthly. These 11 outstanding women are either current or retired teachers who have been through thick and thin since 2006 (I gain strength from them). I also enjoy playing volleyball, basketball and creating decadent wedding/celebration cakes.
How long have you lived in Juneau?
I was born in Kailua, Hawaii, and was brought to Juneau in 1985 with my parents and five siblings. I graduated from JDHS in 1995 and received my bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2000 from UAS. Currently I am working on my master’s degree in mathematics (K-8), which I will complete by mid-December of this year. Eventually, I would like to earn my doctorate but I feel I need a break for a moment to enjoy my kids while they are still very young.
What are your professional Interests?
Last year was a turning point for me. I decided to become more active. I joined SHAPE Alaska (Society of Health And Physical Education) and was voted onto the board as a Southeast representative. This year I am their secretary. I was a part of a group helping to develop and run their fall conference this year. I also have become more involved with my union (Juneau Education Association), starting out as a building rep and being voted in, this year, as elementary school representative. I have been to training conferences, Delegate Assembly, where I represented Southeast Alaska in creating bylaws to assist in passing articles to help members throughout our region. I will also be attending Region Assembly this July in order to represent Southeast Alaska in our national conference (Region Assembly).
What are some engaging units, lessons, or experiences you have provided to students?
Marathon Club has been a very popular activity for the students at MRCS. I have a fall and a spring marathon club. We run one mile every morning before school starts for 26 days. If students are able to complete all 26 miles by the end of our club, they are rewarded by hearing their name over the intercom as they run the last 0.2 miles down the hall (from the kindergarten wing to the intermediate wing) while the other classes line the hallways and cheer them on. This has become so popular that we end up with between 75 and 95 students who are able to run down the halls.
Archery is another activity that the intermediate students (grades 3-5) look forward to. Another activity the kids love is Native Youth Olympics. I teach them how to do the Seal Hop, Scissors Broad Jump, Stick Pull, 1-Foot High Kick, 2-Foot High Kick and the Alaskan High Kick. Not only do they learn to do these games, but also they have the ability to complete against other schools in a small Native Youth Olympics competition.
What inspires you?
As a child, educators inspired me. In seventh grade I decided I wanted to be an educator. Over the summer I would pull my younger siblings aside and teach them. I would have them write and read things to me like I was an educator. Teachers are there for the majority of our childhood lives. They don’t seek recognition but certainly deserve it. As professionals, we will also forever be students, constantly learning new things and incorporating them into our lessons to provide the best instruction we can to suit the lives of our students.
• The Educator Spotlight is in partnership with the Juneau Education Association.